Every bartender wants to have their favourite cocktail shaker, and that’s true, even if you’re a newbie, setting up your home bar or training to be a bartender. Boston Shakers and Cobbler Shakers are the two most common shakers in the bartending market.
In a busy bar, the Boston Shaker is the one you will see bartenders break out the most. It has a larger capacity and tends to mix faster, which is perfect for when the crowd is really rolling in. However, there are still many reasons to like the Cobbler Shaker as well.
What is a Cobbler Shaker?
Cobbler shakers are three-piece shakers, and the strainer portion of the shaker is built-in. It makes for a good beginner shaker and even most bartenders, even those with extensive experience, have a Cobbler Shaker in their cabinet.
Cobbler Shakers are far more common in Japan, with Japanese bartenders. If you’ve ever had a Milk Saki shot, you’ll often see the Cobbler Shaker come out from underneath the bar. If there is one thing that defines the Cobbler Shaker it’s the term “beginner-friendly.”
It’s very easy to use and handle. It consists of the aforementioned built-in strainer (part of the top), a cap, and a mixing tin. The cap is often used as a sort-of measuring cup, which is another part of what makes the Cobbler Shaker easy to use. It’s a one-size-fits-all shaker.
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- Easy to use and handle
- Perfect for beginners
- Mixes simple drinks well
- Built-in strainer adds a degree of simplification
- Easy to take apart and clean
- Parts aren’t sealed, so leaking is a risk.
- The strainer catches particles, slowing the flow
- The top doesn’t come off easily when cold
What is a Boston Shaker?
Despite all of the above-listed advantages of a Cobbler Shaker, the Boston Shaker is far and away the most common shaker found in bars today. While you are sure to find Cobbler Shakers from time to time, the Boston Shaker is as common in a bar as a pencil is on a teacher’s desk.
Boston Shakers consist of two components; however, there are three varieties of Boston Shakers.
- Steel canister with a glass cup
- Steel canister and a steel cup
- Steel canister that’s weighted with a glass or steel cup that’s also weighted
Like the Cobbler Shaker, Boston Shakers come in all kinds of colours and aesthetic designs, such as copper, bronze, reflective aluminium (look not the make), stainless steel, and various colours or designs. They come with a separate tin.
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- Larger than a Cobbler Shaker
- Doesn’t freeze shut Easy to learn
- Simple to clean with just two parts
- Comes in a variety of cups and canisters
- No strainer/requires a separate strainer
- Requires more practice than a Cobbler Shaker
Why Do You Need a Cocktail Shaker?
Most people, whether making their own home bar or just enjoying making drinks, have blenders, multiple cups, whisks, and other mixing instruments in their homes. Why bother with a cocktail shaker, and why choose between a Cobbler and a Boston Shaker?
Well, it’s like saying you don’t need a power drill to manufacture your own teardrop trailer because you have a screwdriver, a hammer, and plenty of screws and nails. It makes sense if you prefer to do ten times the amount of work.
Not only is a cocktail shaker an excellent tool to keep in the cabinet for mixing drinks on the weekends (or possibly nightcaps on weekday nights), but It also comes with a number of other positives that make either a Boston Shaker or a Cobbler Shaker worth picking up.
- It makes difficult to mix cold ingredients easier to mix
- It works to chill your beverage when you use ice
- Cocktail recipes are specific and tailored for cocktail shakers
- Mixes drinks faster
- Generally pretty simple to use, and you’ll pick up on the Boston pretty quick
- They make your bar look cool and authentic
Oftentimes, cold liquids and dry ingredients are difficult to mix. You have to be pretty vigorous with them, and cocktail shakers allow you to mix these ingredients far easier than trying to stir them with a spoon.
When you add ice, it’s much better at cooling your drink—faster too. You can either chill the ingredients beforehand, which takes time, or chill them afterwards, which not only takes time, it also dilutes the original mix.
Most cocktail mix recipes are designed with a shaker and ice in mind. The ingredients and instructions already account for the ice in the shaker and how much of that ice melts, diluting the flavour of the ingredients.
What Shaker Would a Bartender Choose?
Bartenders would probably stick with the Cobbler Shaker if the only drinks in the world were fairly easy mixes. Unfortunately, there are probably more difficult and complex drink mixes than there are simple ones. The Boston Shaker is the only one that makes sense from that understanding.
Boston Shakers are a little more of a pain, since you have to use separate components to strain and pour, and they’re a little more difficult to use and learn to use. However, they are hands down the best for making complicated drink mixes.
That doesn’t mean the Cobbler Shaker has no use in a bar. In fact, many bartenders keep them on hand for quickly making simple drink mixes and as a backup shaker. Boston Shakers are easily the most popular shakers in bars, and that’s despite competing with more than just Cobbler Shakers.
What Shaker Should You Use at Home?
If you are new to the idea of mixing drinks, there is no reason you should go out and purchase a book filled with the most complicated drink mixes on the planet. First of all, you’re not going to make these mixed drinks very well.
Second of all, it will take you some time to learn the minutiae of mixing a drink properly. The best shaker to go with as a bartender at home is the Cobbler Shaker—at least until you reach the point where your drink mixes grow in complication and sophistication.
The Cobbler Shaker is easy to use for anybody just getting into the mixing drinks arena. It also boils down to how often you mix drinks and for how many people. How many people come over for mixed drinks on the weekend?
For the most part, the Cobbler Shaker will keep up with most of the drinks you have to pour. You might even consider paying for both a Cobbler Shaker and a Boston Shaker. That way, you have the best of both worlds.
Cobbler Shaker Vs Boston Shaker: Which One is Better?
When it comes to complicated drinks or drinks with a lot of dry ingredients, the Boston Shaker is a no-brainer, and that’s why it’s the most popular shaker in bars.
If you want to keep it simple (the KISS method), the Cobbler Shaker makes the most sense. It’s fast, beginner-friendly, and can handle most simple to medium drink mixes. It can also handle complicated ones, so long as you’re willing to pick things out of the strainer and wait a little longer.
All Things Considered
The Bosten Shaker and the Cobbler Shaker are two of the best available shakers on the market. Japanese bartenders love the Cobbler Shaker, and they really know how to put together a fine drink. But, for the most part, the Boston Shaker reigns supreme in American bars, at least for the foreseeable future.